UI Diversity Director Tracy Peterson leaves for Penn State – UI The Daily Iowan

UI Diversity and Outreach Programs Director Tracy Peterson, a lead advocate for Native American students on campus, left the University of Iowa this month for a position at Pennsylvania State University.

Tracy Peterson poses for a portrait with a students STEM project in his office at the Seamen Center on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Peterson will be leaving his job as Diversity Director for the College of Engineering to move to Penn State.

Katie Goodale

Tracy Peterson poses for a portrait with a students STEM project in his office at the Seamen Center on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Peterson will be leaving his job as Diversity Director for the College of Engineering to move to Penn State.

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Tracy Peterson poses for a portrait with a students STEM project in his office at the Seamen Center on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Peterson will be leaving his job as Diversity Director for the College of Engineering to move to Penn State.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News ReporterSeptember 18, 2019

A prominent voice for Native American faculty, staff, and students alike has left the University of Iowa for another campus, leaving behind a legacy of advocacy for the underrepresented community.

The UI College of Engineerings Diversity and Outreach Programs Director Tracy Peterson, the Engineering Student Success Team director, completed his time with the UI Sept. 13. He will officially begin at Penn State University on Sept. 30 as the director of Student Transitions and Pre-College Outreach in the Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion.

Im looking forward to the challenge of a new journey, Peterson said in an email to The Daily Iowan. Bringing innovative ideas and developing the best practices to a new position is rewarding because you are building programs that never existed before or revitalizing current ones.

Peterson is a citizen of the Din (Navajo) Nation and began his stint at the UI in 2014 at the engineering school.

While a UI faculty member, Peterson participated and served on many committees and organizations to make the campus better for students including the Native American Council and the [emailprotected] Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, and he advised several multicultural and campus clubs.

UI graduate student Guadalupe Munoz Rocha said Peterson advocated for diversity, equity, and inclusion in student life through his work at the Latino Native American Cultural Center.

He really wanted to encourage younger students to pursue STEM, especially members of minority groups, Munoz Rocha said. He made sure I was moving forward as a minority student He didnt want me to feel like that was something that would limit me.

She added that Peterson pushed for communication between the multicultural organizations on campus and mentored individual students like herself.

He was part of my support system. Whenever I needed anything, whether it be a reference or who to talk to about something, he was always there, she said. He made sure that I kept moving forward.

Not only was Peterson a great resource for students, but for faculty as well, History and American Studies Associate Professor Stephen Warren said. Peterson was instrumental in assisting the Native American community on campus as a professor and a colleague, he said.

Tracys role at this university is expansive, Warren said. He works with all the Native American and indigenous students on campus.

Warren said Peterson is the most important liaison between the UI and the Native American Meskwaki tribe. He added that the UI Powwow, a Native American cultural celebration on campus, wouldnt be possible without Peterson.

RELATED: Students and community members celebrate Native American culture at the 25th UI Powwow

As the College of Public Healths associate dean for diversity and a Native American faculty member, Joe Coulter worked closely with Peterson. In an email to The Daily Iowan, Coulter said the two first met when Peterson was a 15-year-old high-school student visiting a UI summer program.

I remain hopeful that Peterson and family will return here to the [UI], as this has over the years become their home, Coulter said.

Warren said Peterson will be duly missed by students and faculty on campus at the UI, and added that he positively affected every person who worked with him.

Hes really a part of the campus community, Warren said. According to many students, Tracy is a de facto parent on campus and a father figure, as well as a mentor. He really is irreplaceable.

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UI Diversity Director Tracy Peterson leaves for Penn State - UI The Daily Iowan

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